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Inner Mongolia investors fancy Houston properties

Updated: 2015-12-01 09:21
By MAY ZHOU in Houston (China Daily USA)

A small group of investors from Inner Mongolia in China listened to a pitch about Houston real estate on Monday.

Nancy Furst, chairwoman of the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), personally welcomed the delegation. Representatives from HAR gave the guests an overview of the city's residential, commercial, farm, ranch and land real estate market, as well as title transactions involving foreign investors, during the reception.

The delegation was led by Zhang Guojun, board member at Chifeng Rural Commercial Bank, and included stakeholders in the bank who are looking to invest in Houston commercial real estate.

A considerable number of people have become "high net-worth" due to the rapid economic development of China in the past decades. Now they are looking to diversify their personal assets as well as for better investment opportunities, Zhang said.

"The US is one of the best places for stable and safe investment, and Houston is certainly a very good place for real estate," Zhang said.

According to event organizer Austin Zhao, CEO of China-US Pathway, the visitors came to Texas in particular to consider a 27-acre parcel in Missouri City, a satellite city southwest of Houston. The land is valued at $13 million.

If the investors like the land and the transaction goes through, it will also serve as a test case, said Zhang, who is a board director at the Shenzhen Chamber of Commerce.

"We have a lot of wealthy individuals interested in investing in the US. If the first project is a success, much more money will certainly follow into Houston," Zhang said.

It's been known for some time that more and more Chinese are buying homes in the United States, including in Houston. However, more Chinese buyers have acquired commercial and farm properties in Texas in recent years.

Minor Taylor, an agent specializing in land, farm and ranch assets, said he helped close a deal valued at $18 million in the summer.

"It's 5,000 acres of farmland in Bay City, about an hour away from Houston, to a Chinese family in the distillery business," he said. "They are going to produce red sorghum to ship back to China," said Taylor, who gave a presentation of farm and ranch investment.

Taylor said his first land transaction involving a Chinese buyer was in 2006, and it was for only $80,000. The trend has picked up in the last few years.

"This year alone, our transaction with Chinese buyers are over $20 million. Between myself and a few of my colleagues, we did over $100 million transactions in the last two years with Chinese buyers. This area got excellent soil and good rainfall; that's why the farm land is so attractive," said Taylor.

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